Defence wins international award for aircraft fatigue test

The Defence Science & Technology Organisation (DSTO) and The Royal Australian Air Force were today presented with a prestigious international award from The International Council of Aeronautical Sciences for their structural testing program assessing the fatigue life of the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill announced today.

The Von Karman award was accepted in Toronto on behalf of Defence by Air Commodore Noel Schmidt, Director-General of Technical Airworthiness.

This is the first time Australia has won the award which recognises outstanding examples of international cooperation in the field of aeronautics and is named after Dr Theodore Von Karman, one of the greatest aeronautical scientists of the twentieth century. Senator Hill said this award demonstrates that Australia's aeronautical research and development capability is among the best in the world.

"This is a great tribute to Australia's scientists and engineers and Air Force personnel who have been working diligently on the Hornet fatigue test program. The recognition will also increase the exposure of the Australian aerospace industry to international audiences, and further highlight Australia's R&D capability."

DSTO's International Follow-On Structural Test Project, undertaken in collaboration with the Canadian Forces which shares the award, is aimed at extending the safe operating life of the Hornet fleet by up to 25 percent.

(Defence media release) posted 14-9-2002

RAAF School Penang reunion

Registration of interest are being called for a RAAF School Penang reunion to be held in May 2003 in Melbourne. The reunion is for students, teachers, parents and others associated with the school from beginning to closure. Further information regarding the reunion can be found at the following web site (under the reunions section):

US JSF team visits Williamtown

Representatives of the US JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) Program Office and prime contractor Lockheed Martin on Tuesday concluded the first stage in a series of briefings on the JSF, the strike fighter of the future. After two days in Canberra, the team will now provide briefings for Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel at RAAF Bases Williamtown, Glenbrook and Amberley.

The visit follows the first phase of Government to Government negotiations between Australia and the United States. These negotiations address the terms of Australia's involvement in the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the program.

(Defence media release) posted 24-8-2002

Pitch Black 2002 hailed a success

RAAF bases Amberley and Williamtown returned to normal last week after hosting the Pitch Black 2002 exercise. 57 aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) had spent the previous three weeks testing and proving Australia's air defences in the major air exercise for 2002.

The exercise scenarios were played out over Central Western New South Wales and off the central New South Wales coast where aircraft from Williamtown defended targets from attacking aircraft launching from Amberley, near Brisbane. Adding an additional danger for the attacking "Red" force was the presence of the Army's 16th Air Defence Regiment's surface-to-air missile batteries near Coonabarabran.

The Director of Pitch Black Exercise Control, Group Captain Rick Owen, said the exercise was an unqualified success."We had a number of set objectives to achieve in the exercise and they were well and truly satisfied." the interoperability, the way the two air forces worked together, had been particularly satisfying with the RSAF F-5 and F-16 fighters combining with our Air Force F/A-18, F-111 and Hawk fast jets to form a formidable attacking force. "The strength and capability of that force allowed us to really test our air defences from early radar detection and fighter control through to actual aerial combat by the defending F/A-18 Hornets from Williamtown.

Group Captain Owen said "I was particularly pleased the way the whole thing played out, and the display of readiness by our combat team together with the technology of the Surveillance and Control Group has shown that Australia's air defences are in very good shape."

Group Captain Owen declined to nominate a winner between the Red and Blue forces, saying instead that the real winner had been all those who participated in this major exercise.

(Defence media release) posted 10-8-2002 photos Defence

Williamtown co-hosts Exercise Pitch Black

Pitch Black 2002 will proceeds this year without the involvement of the United States and British Forces, due to extended overseas commitments of these Allied Forces. Because of this reduced involvement the Air Force has elected to bring the exercise closer to the home bases of Amberley and Williamtown. Limiting time away from home for flying and support crews at these bases who have been heavily engaged in ADF Operations over recent months.

Pitch Black 2002 is one of the largest military aviation exercises of its type to be held in Australia and is critical to maintaining Australia's Air Security capabilities. This years exercise will involve up to 60 military aircraft from Australia and Singapore. Pitch Black 2002 will be held over the period 15 July to 2 August 2002.

(Defence media release) posted 13-7-2002

Australia to Join Joint Strike Fighter Program

In a press conference held today by Minister for defence Senator Robert Hill, Minister for industry Ian Macfarlane, and Air Marshal Houston it was announced that Australia will negotiate with the United States to join the decade-long development phase of the US$200 billion Joint Strike Fighter Program.

Defence Minister Robert Hill said the decision to commit up to US$150 million over 10 years as a level three partner would put Australia at the forefront of developing the world's most advanced and biggest combat aircraft program over the next 30 years."There are real benefits to getting in on the ground floor of the program,"

"Australia will need to replace its ageing F/A-18 Hornets and F-111 strike aircraft from 2012. Through the JSF program, Defence will have access to levels of capability and technology in the aircraft that will be a generation ahead of other contemporary aircraft."

"Our partnership will also lead to significant savings and ensure that Australian industry is able to compete for JSF work. It will provide the Australian aerospace industry with the opportunity to participate in the global development, production and support of the project." Senator Hill said.

The JSF or more correctly the Lockheed Martin F-35 is a stealthy supersonic multi-role fighter that falls some where between the F/A-18 and the F-111 in range and payload. It has an internal weapons bay as well as external hard points that may be used for ferrying trips (none combat) or in low risk situations as external stores destroy stealth. The F-35's main advantage is its low radar cross section and next generation software and radar technology. Some 3000 aircraft are expected to be produced for the US and United Kingdom alone, with total production worldwide likely to be more than 4500 aircraft.

(Defence media release) posted 27-6-2002 photos Lockheed Martin

Williamtown biding for air 6000 work

Newcastle airport has set aside land and a full-time project manager has been appointed as part of a bid to become the main assembly hub for the up coming air 6000 project. Air 6000 is the Howard Goverment's plan to replace the RAAF's Hornet and F-111 aircraft possibly with one airframe to cover both fighter and strike roles. Air 6000 project is estimated to be worth up to $20 billion with the purchase signed by 2007 and the first aircraft delivered in 2012.

The Newcastle project manager Peter Taylor said he had held very positive talks with Lockheed Martin one of the five contenders putting forward a potential replacement aircraft.

Newcastle Airports manager Julian Green said the Williamtown site was perfect for construction and support of new defence aircraft. Much of the necessary infrastructure had been established for the British Aerospace Hawk assembly program.

Both the NSW Department of State and Regional Development and the Hunter Economic Development Corporation are supporting the bid that is aiming to convince the Goverment that Newcastle Airports unique location next to the RAAF's main fighter base and its proven track record with British Aerospace is the best option.

(Newcastle Herald) posted 25-6-2002

Williamtown units win Air Force Awards

On Tuesday the anual Best of the Best Air Force Awards where announced these awards are highly coveted in the RAAF community and if you manage to receive one you are considered to have demonstrated a quality of service above and beyond the high standards already set by the RAAF. Two units from Williamtown won awards for last years efforts. They where 2OUC receiving the The RAAF Maintenance Trophy (Most Proficient RAAF Maintenance Unit) and Williamtown's reserve squadron No. 26 City of Newcastle receiving The Air Force Association Trophy (Most Proficient Reserve Squadron). Congratulations to both units.

(Defence media release) posted 22-5-2002

3 Squadron return home from Diego Garcia

Today at 15:30 four RAAF hornets and a US KC-10 with about 60 3 squadron personel touched down at Williamtown after their three month deployment to the US air base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. 3 squadron replaced 77 squadron on the island in February after they had completed their three month deployment. 3 squadron used the four Hornets that had been used by 77 squadron saving the expense of having to ready five (one reserve) and deploy four additional Hornets.

It was good to see that in addition to family and friends welcoming home 3 squadron there was a large number of Novacastrions lining the fence at the end of the runway to show their support for the airmen & women. Something I'm sure they appreciated.

The return of 3 squadron marks the end of the RAAF's fighter contribution to the war against terrorism. Although they where not part of any major operation (that we know of) they where there and would have jumped at the opportunity to uphold the reputation that the RAAF has earned in war and peace ever since its first operations with the Australian Flying Corps in WW 1.

posted 21-5-2002

77 Squadron go to exercise Shot Start

Four 77 squadron Hornets are participating in exercise Shot Start held at Townsville along with the squadrons Pilatus PC-9/A(F) forward air control aircraft. Shot Start is a very realistic forward air control exercise held over a two week period and is designed to train Australian soldiers to accurately call in heavy fire power on nearby enemy positions. Shot Start will finish on May 25.

(Newcastle Herald) posted 18-5-2002

Williamtown projects approved in 2002 budget.

RAAF base Williamtown has had 10 major projects approved in this years budget announced on Tuesday. But not all projects have been fully funded for the financial year with some work delayed for 12 months to help cover spending incurred in the fight against terrorism. The main project to be delayed is the $150 million upgrade to the base to house the new Boeing 737 AEW&C aircraft. A treasury spokesperson said that the upgrade will be completed before the AEW&C aircraft arrive in 2007.

The projects that have been approved are as follows with the figures in brackets being the 2002-03 expenditure. Eastern Regional Operations Center $18 mil ($1.1 mil), Redevelopment stage 1 and Airborne Early Warning and Control works $149 mil ($10 mil), building extension for Computer Services $1.4 mil ($1.3 mil), Lead-in fighter works $965'000 ($835'000), Duckhole Hill Radar works $950'000 ($900'000), install Dehumidifiers to aircraft shelters $483'000 ($410'000), Salt Ash Range perimeter fence $500'000 ($500'000), relocate Defence Materiel Organisation Tactical Fighter Systems Program Office $2.757 mil ($50'000), Weapons Training Simulation System $900'000 ($100'000), and Child care facility $2 mil ($2 mil).

(Newcastle Herald) posted 17-5-2002

International Peacekeeping Discussions to visit Williamtown

Defence Minister Robert Hill will open the Australian Defence Force Peacekeeping Centre's International Peace Operations Seminar in Canberra at Parliament House on Monday 29 April 2002. Representatives from China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Nepal, Indonesia and other countries will join Australian military personnel, civilians and other government agencies at the seminar.

Director of Peacekeeping from the ADF Warfare Centre at Williamtown, Commander Darryl Watters, said the conference agenda was designed to give participants insight into the numerous elements of peacekeeping operations. "Factors that need to be considered when implementing peacekeeping missions vary from cultural aspects of the host nation, to logistics planning, distribution of aid, hostile environments and legal issues, among others. "While Australia has been heavily involved in overseas peacekeeping operations for some time now, we must keep assessing what we do and how we do it," he said.

The two-week seminar will start on Monday at Parliament House in Canberra. With week two being held at the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre at RAAF Base Williamtown.

(Defence media release) posted 29-4-2002

Defence Minister visits Hunter region's defence industries and facilities

On Wednesday 24 April Defence Minister Robert Hill toured the Hunter region's defence industries and facilities with Hunter-based Senator John Tierney ( one of my old school teachers ). Senator Hill visited ADI Newcastle, which is currently finalising the construction of the Huon class Mine Hunter and Forgacs Newcastle's two sites at Carrington and Tomago. Forgacs shipyards have in the past conducted upgrades of major amphibious lift vessels and of major afloat support vessels and have constructed modules for the ANZAC and Collins programs.

The visits to the two Hunter industries continues Senator Hill's tour of Australia's major shipbuilders. His tour comes as Defence, in consultation with industry and other government agencies, develops a naval shipbuilding and repair sector strategic plan.

While in the Hunter, Senator Hill also toured the Royal Australian Air Force base at Williamtown. This is his first visit as Defence Minister to the facility.

(Defence media release) posted 28-4-2002

77 Squadron celebrates 60 years

One of Australia's most decorated fighter squadrons remembered its proud history yesterday at Williamtown RAAF base. In a ceremony that was attended by the squadrons first commanding officer Wing Commander Creswell, a Distinguished Flying Cross recipient, reviewed the troops with Air Force chief Air Marshal Angus Houston before a fly-past of F/A-18 Hornets and Hawk 127 lead-in fighters.

77 squadron was formed on the 16th March 1942 in the after marth of the Japanese bombing of Darwin and was equipped with P40E Kittyhawk aircraft untill 1945 when the squadron recived P51 Mustang's. Fighters from the unit shot down the first Japanese aircraft over Australia, and they were the first Australians to fly jet aircraft into combat after reciving Meteor's in 1951, Some Of the unit's F/A-18 Hornets recently deployed to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean as part of Australia's task force in the war against terrorism.

Wing Commander Creswell said the unit had come a long way from the propeller-driven Kittyhawk aircraft of World War II. Looking back, a lot has happened to the squadron over the years, but it has done an amazing job and has always been a marvellous operational squadron,' he said.

Another one of Williamtown's decorated Squadron's 76 also celebrates its 60th anniversary this month.

(RAAF) posted 16-3-2002

Phase 2 of HUG launched at Williamtown

The RAAF's fleet of F/A-18 Hornets have entered the second phase of The HUG program (Hornet Upgrade) designed to significantly improve their combat capability and retain their decisive role in Australia's defence system.

The fighters, which entered service with the RAAF between 1985 and 1990, have already been fitted with improved communication and navigation systems under the first phase of the Hornet Upgrade Program (HUG). Now embarking on the second phase, the aircraft will receive a new advanced Fire Control radar and upgradeable flight software.

RAAF officials and representatives of the contractors involved in the HUG Program, Boeing and Raytheon, gathered today for an induction ceremony at RAAF Base Williamtown to commemorate the first production aircraft entering the next phase of the work.

Two aircraft have already been fitted with the new APG-73 radar for validation and verification purposes and the remainder of the fleet will be modified at RAAF Base Williamtown by Boeing Australia Limited.

Full production work is scheduled to start mid-year and be completed by mid-2003.

For more info on the HUG program have a look at my Hornet upgrade page.
(Defence media release) posted 5-3-2002

CAF & RAAF order new F/A-18 training aids

A news item in this months Australian Aviation mag states that the RAAF and the CAF (Canadian Air Force) have placed a $US32m contract with Boeing to develop and deliver integrated maintenance training systems for their Hornet aircraft.

These new integrated maintenance training systems will replace five separate devices with one new generation system to train Military aircraft personnel. The new trainers of which the RAAF has ordered three combines a high fidelity simulated cockpit with virtual system panels and comprise some of the latest technology.

Both countries are expecting deliveries to start in the first quarter of 2004.

(Australian Aviation) posted 28-2-2002

F/A-18's to provide air cover for CHOGM

The Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill, has announced a comprehensive range of Defence security measures for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Coolum in Queensland. The Australian Defence Force will play a key role at CHOGM providing around 2,400 personnel for security, logistics, communication support and ceremonial duties. Defence is assisting the Australian Federal Police, Queensland Police Service, Air Services Australia, and other government agencies in providing security arrangements for the meeting.

"The air defence component will consist of F/A-18 fighter aircraft, air-to-air refuelling aircraft and early warning radar surveillance to increase security of the airspace surrounding the CHOGM venues. The post-September 11 reality is that we must be prepared to respond to any threat that may arise."

"Air Services Australia and Defence are working together to ensure that should any threats arise to CHOGM, the Government has procedures and responses to deal with them. In addition to providing increased air security, the ADF will provide operational search teams, aero-medical evacuation, communications and movement control support."

(Defence media release) posted 28-2-2002

Willy welcomes home 77 Squadron

With the sounds of the RAAF central band playing I still call Aust home and Those magnificent men in their flying machines 200 family and friends many waving Australian flags stood on the tarmac at Williamtown RAAF base to welcome home about 60 77 squadron personnel from Afghanistan yesterday afternoon after completing their three month deployment.

Air Commander Australia Air Vice-Marshal John Kindler kept his welcome home speech short, expressing the Air Forces gratitude to the RAAF men and their families. 'We're very proud of you,' it is the first time in 40 years that our fighters have been deployed in a war situation. 'That is a significant achievement. Thank you for doing a great job.'

(The Newcastle Herald) posted 18-2-2002

Ceremony to launch AIR COMBAT GROUP

The Royal Australian Air Force has celebrated the establishment of the new Air Combat Group, which combines all of Australia's fast jet combat aircraft under a single command, during a spectacular parade at RAAF Base Williamtown on Thursday night ( 7-2-02 ).

In an impressive ceremonial display all units under the command of Air Combat Group were represented, including No. 78, 81 and 82 Wings, which are comprised of 1, 3, 6, 75, 76, 77 and 79 Squadrons, No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit and the Forward Air Control Development Unit.

More than 300 airmen and women marched onto the parade ground, before the Governor-General, His Excellency, Dr Peter Hollingworth, the Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Angus Houston and the Commander of Air Combat Group, Air Commodore John Quaife, for the landmark event.

Air Marshal Houston said the formation of Air Combat Group was an important development in Australia's air combat capabilities for the 21st Century.

"This new structure greatly enhances our ability to deploy composite air power in an effective manner because it brings together the strengths of our individual combat platforms.

"Also, by managing our air combat power through a single command structure, we will be able to ensure the correct balance between our resources, capabilities and tasks is maintained, both now and into the future," he said.

Headquarters of Air Combat Group have been established at RAAF Base Williamtown, with the various elements of the group remaining at their current locations of Amberley (Queensland), Tindal (Northern Territory), Pearce (Western Australia) and Williamtown (New South Wales).

(Defence media release) posted 8-2-2002


The RAAF has reorganise its F- 111 and F/A- 18 Hornet forces from 1st January 2002 with the formation of the Air Combat Group (ACG) to replace the existing Strike Reconnaissance (82 WG) and Tactical Fighter Groups (81 WG).

Control of the air will become the responsibility of No 81 Wing and precision strike that of 82 Wing. 78 Wing's current training responsibilities will be widened to include F-111 training and 82 Wing's duties will include all fast jet elements of precision strike including Hornets assigned to that duty.

The Air Combat Groups new crest (above) consists of a Grey Goshawk (from TFG crest) and a Astral Crown (from SRG crest) on a blue back ground with the Southern Cross. The crest is underpinned by the groups motto, Defend and Strike.

posted 29-1-02

RAAF Hornets leave Willy to help combat terrorism

On Tuesday the 13 November a small group of Hornets left Williamtown as part of Australia's contribution to the fight against Terrorism in Afghanistan. It is believed that they where to meet up with a KC-10 refueler which was to escort them to there destination. The RAAF has not disclosed where they will be stationed at or what their role will be for security reasons. I know that all of Newcastle wishes them well.

posted 16-11-2001

Four RAAF Hornets head to Diego Garcia

Prime Minister John Howard has committed Australia's largest military deployment since Vietnam to aid the US campaign in Afghanistan. Amongst committed forces are four RAAF F/A-18 Hornets for air defence, ( which Squadron these will come from has not been announced but my guess is either 3 or 75 as they are our main fighter squadrons) Two P-3c Orions for surveillance and two 707 refuellers all are to be stationed on the island of Diego Garcia at this stage. This is the RAAF's commitment out of a 1550 strong force from all three of Australia's services. I wish then well and hope that all return home.

posted 18-10-2001

Last two UK built hawks arrive at Williamtown

The RAAF's new fleet of 33 Hawk Lead-In Fighter aircraft Has been completed after the arrival of the final two aircraft from the United Kingdom at Williamtown on the 5th October. They will undergo delivery preparation before officially handed over to the RAAF in a few weeks time.

The arrival is the culmination of a successful $850 million project which involved the setting up of simultaneous production lines in the UK and at Williamtown. Of the 33 aircraft, a total of 21 were assembled at the BAE SYSTEMS Williamtown facility by Hunter Aerospace and the remaining 12 jets were assembled at BAE SYSTEMS facility at Warton in the United Kingdom.

The establishment of an assembly facility at Williamtown generated ongoing jobs and a boost to the Newcastle economy as Hunter Aerospace now switches to the maintenance and support of the Hawk's over their 25- year life.

(Defence media release) posted 18-10-2001

BAE Systems hands over final Aust assembled Hawk

On the 8th August BAE Systems handed over the final Hawk LIF to be assembled in their Hunter Aerospace facility at Williamtown to the RAAF. This Hawk LIF was the last of the 21 Hawks to be assembled locally and with the final two UK built Hawks due with in the next couple of months will see all 33 ordered Hawks finally in RAAF service.

Mr John Weston chief executive, BAE Systems plc said at the hand over ceremony "The final delivery of the Australian-assembled Lead-in Fighter is testament to the commitment and talent of the Defence Materiel Organisation and BAE SYSTEMS project teams. By refining their final assembly skills, the HUNTER Aerospace team were able to reduce the final assembly timescale from the originally planned 26 weeks to an 18 week cycle."

Chief of Air Force,Air Marshal Angus Houston, also stated the RAAF's great Satisfaction with their new state-of-the-art fast jet trainer.

The purpose built Hunter Aerospace facility will now turn from assembly to maintenance as it provides through life support for the RAAF's Hawk fleet.

(BAE Systems) posted 29-8-2001 Photo BAE Systems

Other Hawk News

Two Tactical Weapons System Training Systems (TWSTS) for the Hawk LIF have been accepted by the RAAF. The TWSTS are based at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Pearce in WA with Williamtowns having been installed in March. The TWSTS have been developed by BAE Systems in South Australia as part of a suite of training aids for the Hawk Lead-in Fighter.

In addition, BAE Systems Australia is progressing the certification of the air-to-air refuelling (AAR) capability for the Hawk LIF. The RAAF's fleet of Hawks were delivered with the AAR system and are now being cleared for operational use. The AAR capability will add to the training and operational capability of the Lead-in Fighter. Additional planned capability for the Lead-in Fighter includes radar emulation, radar simulation and moving map.

(BAE Systems) posted 29-8-2001

BAe Systems signs agreement with Boeing

BAe Systems Australia has signed an agreement with Boeing worth $A400m for the development, supply and support of the electronic support, electronic warfare self protection systems, operational mission simulator, mission support segment and support facility for the RAAF's Boeing 737 Wedgetail aircraft.

(Australian Aviation) posted 28-6-2001

77 squadron Hornet test fires AIM-120

The RAAF successfully test fired two AIM-120 AMRAAM (advanced medium range air-air missile) at the Woomera test range during April. The two missiles were the first of their type to be fired in our region and both successfully hit their targets being towed by Kalkara drones. These tests were the final live firings before the introduction of the Aim-120 into RAAF service some time next year.

(Australian Aviation) posted 28-6-2001 Photo RAAF

Hornets from Williamtown sink the ex-USS Reeves

The de-commissioned US Navy war ship USS Reeves was sent to its final resting place off the coast of Queensland through the precise strike capability of the RAAF's F/A-18 Hornet aircraft from Williamtown. It took just 30 minutes for the 6000-tonne Leahy Class guided missile cruiser to sink below the surface after a flight of four hornets achieved two direct hits with Mk-82 500lbs bombs, leaving a six foot gaping hole in the starboard side of the hulk and upsetting the flight of F-111's from Amberley who were due on target after the Hornets.

The sinking of USS Reeves was the final military activity in the month-long, combined Australian and United States Exercise Tandem Thrust. This final stage of the exercise saw aircraft from both the US and Australian Air Forces and ships from the US Navy, firing a variety of guns, bombs and missiles at the hulk in order to test their performance in a simulated battle environment though the sinking was credited largely to the four RAAF jets.

(Defence media release) posted 1-6-2001 Photo RAAF

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